Sin City has found a heavy new way to tap into millennial nostalgia.
If you look around social media or talk to them privately, plenty of so-called “elder millennials” have mixed feelings about that term.
While millennials were once the subjects of a million over-heated think pieces about how they were killing the workforce, also too sensitive about everything, but also going to save us all, all that baggage has now been dumped on Generation Z.
(And, of course, all this hand-wringing is ultimately a psychological mechanism older generations use to cope with the inevitable change that time brings.)
So as even Millennial icon Taylor Swift noted on her song “Nothing New,” no one gets to be the pretty young thing forever, and there’s always someone younger on the come-up.
But age does come with its benefits. You get to shake off baggage both cultural and personal, and you generally enter careers and develop some level of financial and familial stability. And even an elder millennial isn’t that old, statistically speaking, as the oldest is about 41. So they can still party and rock out, from time to time, even as they have to wear sunscreen and remember to hydrate.
Another advantage of getting a bit older is that after a certain age, a sense of nostalgia will gather around the films, fashion, music and TV shows of your formative years. And there’s nothing more lucrative than nostalgia.
This leads to developments like ‘00s icon Lindsey Lohan getting deals for Netflix holiday films, revivals of shows like “Gilmore Girls” and the When We Young Festival, which is explicitly aimed at former MySpace teens who came of age listening to petulant pop-punk and emo.
But everyone of a certain age is nostalgic for something. So eventually with time, even an era’s most disreputable cultural artifacts will get a second look, which explains a surprising (and surprisingly kind of awesome) new music festival.
There’s Nostalgia For Everything, Including Nu Metal
Nu-metal was one of the most hated and widely mocked music genres of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s.
An offshoot of heavy metal that incorporated hip-hop grooves, rapped vocals (sometimes) and a misanthropic world view, bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit sold millions of records at the turn of the millennium, and had a stranglehold on angsty teens that didn’t feel represented by the era’s teen pop explosion.
At the time, critics complained the music was nihilistic, sexist, unrelentingly macho, often derivative of more original bands like Rage Against the Machine and Nine Inch Nails, and overall kind of dumb. This was music made to repel adults, and baffle anyone outside of its target demographic.
Now, to be fair, plenty of those charges are accurate, as the breakout success of Korn, the California group generally credited with kickstarting the scene with their 1994 debut album, led to a host of watered-down imitators.
But the best bands in this genre, which included Korn, as well as Incubus, System of a Down and Deftones, helped update heavy metal for a new generation.
They brought in outside influences that pushed the genre forward (like the Deftones did) and wrote songs about overcoming childhood trauma (which Korn did), feeling adrift in a hyper-charged consumer society (as Incubus did) and the dangers of the prison industrial complex (as System of a Down did). It’s also very worth noting that nearly all the best bands in this genre had people of color in the line-up, and they were often the lead singers, a clear and important signal that heavy metal was a genre for everyone.
At the time, it could be difficult to make the case that “not all nu metal is bad,” because, well, so much of it was just terrible. (Korn and Deftones are one thing, but Limp Bizkit remains indefensible.)
But the passage of time has a tendency to bestow a shine on a misunderstood cultural moment, and a younger generation of critics have in recent years made an argument for the best bands in this genre.
Nu metal petered out when the amount of terrible bands just made the whole thing bloated and the signal became outweighed by the noise, and eventually the kids moved onto My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy.
But now that the kids who grew up on punk and emo get to have their own festivals, it’s only fair that the nu metal fans get to have a weekend all their own in Vegas. And that is exactly what C3, a promotions company owned by Live Nation, (LYV) – Get Free Report is going to give America’s former Hot Topic customers.
Putting The Sin Back In Sin City
But Sin City still knows how to rock, as May 13 of next year will see the debut of Sick New World, a brand new heavy metal festival that will take place at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds. So far only one date has been announced, but When We Were Young added more due to demand, so don’t be shocked if that happens.
And look, the festival bill as a whole is a mixed bag. Freaking Hoobastank is on the bill, as are some absolutely goofy hanger-on groups like Alien Ant Farm and Orgy. There’s also plenty of the watered down groups that gave the genre a bad name in the first place; looking at you, Coal Chamber.
But with more than 50 acts playing in one day, there’s only so much you can expect to see, and if you can put together a solid line-up of bands you want to see on a festival day, then that’s a sign that you’re at a good festival.
So in addition to all of the best nu-metal bands, including the above-mentioned Korn, Incubus, Deftones and headliner System of a Down, Sick World also has fun additions like goth legends Sisters of Mercy, industrial rock titans Ministry and cult faves Melvins and Failure, all beloved by discerning headbangers.
But while the festival leans heavily on ‘00s nostalgia, one of the highest bands on the bill is Turnstile, the breakout Baltimore hardcore band that are proving to be one of the most popular new rock bands in years, having recently opened for My Chemical Romance and played “Late Night With Seth Meyers.” There’s also the genre-bending groups Death Grips and 100 Gecs, and down at the bottom of the bill are beloved young post-hardcore groups like Narrow Head, Scowl and Fiddlehead. So it’s not all backwards looking.
Simply put, if you’ve ever gotten in the pit to get your aggression out, there’s something for you at Sick World. Just remember to stretch before you throw down your devil horns, and maybe rethink the moshpit; the ‘00s were a long time ago and you have a job to get back to when the weekend ends, after all.